“Doonesbury’s” Unethical Late Hit On The University of Virginia


The Rolling Stone-“Jackie”-University of Virginia ethics train wreck has claimed another victim, and an unlikely one: “Doonesbury’s” characters, who have been led astray by cartoonist Gary Trudeau and the newspapers that carry his popular strip.

In the episode that ran yesterday, the campus bimbo-turned-feminist “Boopsie” ranted about sexual assault cover-ups of by institutions, and singled out the University of Virginia as a culprit, forbidding her college age daughter from attending school there. [ Notice of correction: I am informed by a reader that “Sam” is Boopie’s daughter, not her son as I wrote originally. Thus she is forbidding her daughter from attending a school where she thinks she is likely to be raped, rather than forbidding her son from going to a school where major magazines will unjustly accuse his fraternity of being a cult of rapists. I apologize for the error.] The premise was based on the anonymous allegations of a fraternity campus assault that were turned into a sensational expose by a feminist reporter with an agenda, and guilelessly published in Rolling Stone without confirmation, fact-checking, or a minimal level of ethical journalistic practices. “Jackie’s” rape accusations have been shown to be substantially or completely fabricated, and story has been thoroughly discredited for more than three weeks.

Why are Trudeau and his fictional creations still calling UVA a hotbed of sexual assault? There are several reasons:

  • Trudeau is as good an example of a knee-jerk liberal as you could find, and he would naturally assume that any unidentified woman’s account of sexual victimization is true without any real evidence whatsoever. These are the rules in his world.
  • Although most readers don’t focus on the fact, comic strips are completed weeks or even months in advance. It is fair to assume that Boopsie made her rape rant before the Rolling Stone story fell apart.
  • Trudeau, as a political, partisan, ideological satirist, often launches barbs of dubious fairness. Can editors tell when Gary is on firm ground or just indulging in his increasingly bitter and unfunny flame war on behalf of the groups that make up the enthusiastic wing of the Democratic Party? I doubt it. I know I couldn’t.
  • No newspaper editor wants to be accused of subject matter censorship. Nothing in yesterday’s strip crosses the line into libel; it’s just very unfair, and spreads a false and inflammatory story that was known to be false by the time the strip ran.

The one who had the ethical obligation to fix the problem was Trudeau. There was plenty of time to contact his syndicate and withdraw the December 28 strip as inaccurate and based on reports now known to be unreliable. There was also plenty of time to draw a new strip: I know Trudeau is busy these days (he has been recycling old strips, much to the dissatisfaction of many readers), but there is no excuse for allowing UVA to be vilified further over an incident that may not have happened.

My guess, having read “Doonesbury” literally from the beginning and watched it devolve from a funny reflection on college life in the Sixties to a shrill far left polemic in which the laughs are separated by weeks and month, is that Trudeau didn’t care. He probably assumes that if Jackie’s story is false, then there are other co-eds on the UVA campus being raped and ignored, so no injustice has been done. (Al Sharpton fans will recognize this as the equivalent of Al’s rationalization for the Tawana Brawley hoax.)

That’s just a guess, however, based on my long ago-formed conclusion that Gary Trudeau is a pompous jerk. It could be that he was just lazy, inattentive and irresponsible.

[ Note: It is also fascinating to peruse the reader comments to the strip. Few readers are troubled by the fact that it is based a debunked account: these are Trudeau’s philosophical allies, and this is a symptom of the ethics illness that is infecting them.]


Pointer: Instapundit

Source: Go Comics


20 thoughts on ““Doonesbury’s” Unethical Late Hit On The University of Virginia

  1. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but I remember back in the days of Calvin and Hobbes, color strips had to be in way ahead of time, like two months or so. Was there a tiny period of time when the story was known, but not the debunking, where the comic could have been drawn, and then re-emerge from limbo in this form afterwards?

    Of course, then the responsible thing to do would be to pull the strip and replace it, if that’s possible, but hey. What do I know about comics?

    • I’m certain it’s because Trudeau, like many comic strip artists, maintains a buffer of several weeks’ worth of work. I expect he produced this as a typical political knee-jerk when the story was hot, and never gave it a second thought beyond chucking it on the burning political rage pile. I doubt anyone in the whole chain of publishing considered it important enough to question. Jack’s analysis still holds up.

  2. Perhaps it is funny for the wrong reason: that it’s a kind of senility to get upset at something that is already in the past. That’s why she’s being humored. I don’t think the artwork needed to be redone, changing the text in the last panel can be done much later according to comments in the heyday of Mr. Schultz.

  3. Also note the dig keeping alive the liberal memes that the church and the military are hotbeds of sexual assault. No one on the left seems to mind that a child is more than twice as likely to be abused at school than they are at church. If I were in a cynical mindset, I’d suggest that there’s a movement underway to ensure that once-noble institutions are undermined and disparaged at every opportunity.

    • ::cracks knuckes::
      Look, it’s not about the children, ok?

      The problem with sexual assault in the church is that it is typically of the homosexual variety, and since the Church – being one big monolithic entity… they’re all Catholic, right? – hates and fears homosexuals, the perceived hypocrisy rises (get it?) to deliciously (get it?) ironic levels. It’s a great excuse for liberally minded folk to crack homophobic jokes about homophobes while making fun of the Church. All behind closed doors, of course (get it?). Win-win. We can do that without feeling like hypocrites ourselves, since our superior minds can handle the necessary mental gymnastics.

      As for schools, the kids are all boning each other anyway, as is only natural, and we can’t be oppressing their sexuality, because what consenting adults (???) do in their own homes (???) is none of our business. Besides, unlike priests, teachers are not authority figures; I mean, by this point, who would trust anyone employed by… wait. What was I saying? Right, some of those teachers are hot, man! Those boys are so lucky! When was the last time you saw a hot Catholic priest? I’ve seen a few good looking nuns, but…

      Umm. I should stop before this goes any further into stream of consciousness nonsense. Too late, maybe?

    • Well, are you really suggesting that the Church, for one, hasn’t been a hotbed of sexual assault and cover-up? Because I can tell you that it has been. Conflating the church with universities and priests/children with students on an equal footing, however, is intellectually dishonest, unfair, misleading and lazy.

      But that’s Gary.

  4. “lazy, inattentive and irresponsible” Isn’t this essentially what you’ve been saying about the ‘hands-up’ believers?

    I would add “impatient” to the list. Act first, think later.

    As far as following the star to the Left goes, I recently discovered [yes, I hear that “about-time-too”] that resistance to real change — of thought, of commitment, of response — is as entrenched in that direction as is that of those whom they label reactionary. The latter (more, uh, conservative) group has just been thinking about it longer and come up with more reasons to stand pat.

    I have no idea what Trudeau knows, where he gets the news he deems reliable, or the time-frame of cancelling a strip which might well already have been distributed and its printing at the discretion of his syndication. [re the Texas sonogram law (uppercase mine): “Universal Press Syndicate president Lee Salem said he wouldn’t be surprised if 20 to 30 of the 1,400 newspapers that carry the strip decided to opt out and RUN THE REPLACEMENT SERIES.” I would presume, though, that he is drawing his now youngest character, Sam, in the college environment as he sees it — two generations removed from his own knowledge and personal experience.

    And I do think he is pandering to that audience, largely comprising . . . lazy, irresponsible, inattentive, impatient, fairly well-to-do, white youth (inclusive of UVA alumni if not Texas abortion-seekers): people who don’t look back at yesterday’s news, and who believe controversy is a fun alternative to rational boring debate. Even if the status quo is making a mess of their now-and-future lives, the last thing they want is for it to change.

    And before I get slammed for thus libeling today’s campus denizens, I will make a distinction: The “lazy,” etc. up to the colon (grammatically speaking), refers to their social and political — NOT academic — thought and behavior. In classroom and required reading is where “change” is studied. And talked and read and wrtten about, And where it stays.

    • I like you Penn, we disagree a lot.

      I think that at some point, the pendulum swung, and innovation stopped happening at institutions of higher learning. University ceased to be the place where people went to be better citizens and instead became the place where people accumulated job skills. As we move forward, we see more and more new and exciting breakthroughs coming out of the private sector, and fewer and fewer out of academia as those institutions become more and more insulated echo chambers. These ideas of “Change” aren’t new. Rape Culture Theory was coined by second wave feminism in the 1970’s. Microagression Theory was coined in 1973 (Thank you little red squiggle for validating my thoughts on that one.). Patriarchy Theory as used currently was also a product of the 70’s. It’s like we waited twenty years, dusted off the second wave batshit crazy playbook and started quoting it like it was all new.

      I guess what I’m saying is that I see post secondary institutions, the administrators, the teachers, and the students, generally, as the definition on intellectual laziness. They’re like a living Xerox assembly. And I challenge you to come up with a real fresh idea that came out of a university in 2014 to change my mind.

        • Sure. Rape as a weapon of war is atrocious. But feminism doesn’t operate outside of first world countries. If they as a group started talking about atrocities in the Congo and stopped this nonsense about ‘man-spreading’, I’d have more respect for that group. But they won’t, so I don’t, and the Congo is a Red Herring.

            • You know… I have to admit, I had assumed third world. I hadn’t heard of the scandal. Scandal seems like too light a word, considering what we consider a scandal, but there it is. I took some time to read up on the scandal, and although I do not claim expertise, from my perusal of articles, it seems to me to be more a case of political correctness run amok and allowing certain aspects of culture where things are practised that do not belong in society to do those practises. Especially in the context of rape culture, where the idea being put forward is that we live in a culture that is either blind to, condones or actively encourages rape. Cases like this where a relatively insulated community goes off the reservation should not be used to condemn an entire society.

              More, I’m going to use this to reinforce my previous assertion that Liberals Hate Children: They would rather let children suffer rape that feel the white-liberal-guilt of self identifying as racist for dealing with brown rapists.

              Some choice quotes I picked up:

              “Members of the British-Pakistani community condemned both the sexual abuse and that it had been covered up for fear of “giving oxygen” to racism”

              “the former MP for Rotherham during the period covered by the report, admitted that he had been “guilty of doing too little” to investigate the extent of the sex crimes being committed in his constituency”

              “a 2010 report by the police intelligence bureau which discussed “a problem with networks of Asian offenders both locally and nationally” which was “particularly stressed in Sheffield and even more so in Rotherham, where there appears to be a significant problem with networks of Asian males exploiting young white females”. It also referred to a document from the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board that stated that the “crimes had ‘cultural characteristics…which are locally sensitive in terms of diversity'”.”

    • They do indeed, tex. In 1,400 syndications, more or less, as I mentioned, minus those of course who buy the papers or check the publications’ websites and then ignore the funnies. Besides the obvious, parents of college-age kids, for instance. People who read it just for the shock of it, an adrenaline rush — of rage? — on a Sunday morning.

      But there’s more (I’m selling a Ginsu knife here). One of the reasons the strip has a wider reach than you would think, one of ‘redeeming social value’ perhaps, has been the character BD. As husband of Boopsie and father of Sam, he often moderates between them (and other characters) and the reader; his responsibility is to modify and sometimes redirect their lava flow — see last panel above. BD came into the strip in 1968 as a football playing, war-supporting conservative who later lost a limb in Vietnam, and that layer of him continues to surface in spite of the radical family influence. It is due to BD that his creator received three of his major awards (and a foreword by Sen. John McCain to Trudeau’s “The War Within”): “Certificates of Achievement from the US Army 4th Battalion 67th Armor Regiment and the Ready First Brigade in 1991 for his comic strips dealing with the first Gulf War. “(T)he US Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service in 2006 for his series of strips about BD’s recovery following the loss of his leg in Iraq.” and “…(T)he Mental Health Research Advocacy Award from the Yale School of Medicine for his depiction of the mental-health issues facing soldiers upon returning home from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.”

      The difference between MSNBC and Doonesbury is that the former has many commercials, little conviction, and no punch lines.

      FYI, so you have the whole picture — and if your blood pressure can take it:

  5. Trudeau has to write about some alleged right wing malfeasance. He can’t go to the elections, because the Demos got clobbered in spite of their own political “twerking”. Too embarrassing. Ferguson, et. al.? The luster came off with the riots and now with the assassination of police officers. The Great Leader Obama? He’s at another multi-million dollar island vacation while the world slips further into Hell.

    As I see it, he’s rather strapped for material. So he does what leftists usually do under such circumstances. He either creates a myth or repeats a pre-existing one as gospel, regardless of how much it’s been debunked in the real world. Trudeau, however, doesn’t have to deal with the real world much and his followers never learned how.

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